How to Prevent an Older Driver From Causing an Iowa Car Accident

You are doing everything that you can to keep your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones safe as they age. There is a fine line, however, between helping your loved ones maintain their independence and keeping them from causing car wrecks.

Get Ready for Challenging Conversations

Your loved one may feel old, scared, and sad during discussions about giving up a driver’s license.

In some cases, it may be possible for your loved one to keep driving safely. If your loved one is going to keep driving, then you might consider:

  • Programs, such as CarFit that are jointly run by AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. CarFit provides personalized education to help older drivers make sure their vehicles are a safe fit. For example, a CarFit inspection can make sure that the driver’s seat and mirrors are in the right position for the driver’s needs. Additionally, a CarFit inspection can identify the need for any adaptive equipment such as steering wheel covers, vision extenders, or seat belt extenders.
  • Car safety features. Some car safety features, such as rearview cameras, are particularly helpful for drivers over the age of 70, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Limited driving hours. Your loved one may agree only to drive during daylight hours or when it’s not snowing, for example.

In other cases, however, it may be safer for your loved one to stop driving. If this is the case, then, it is essential to:

  • Recognize these feelings and avoid confrontation. You should be clear that your goal is to keep your loved one safe and that this is a difficult decision. Your loved one may become defensive. Do not get into an argument with your loved one. Instead, be as positive, supportive, and respectful as possible.
  • Explain your concerns. Explain why you are worried about your loved one’s driving. You should include your specific health concerns, which may include but aren’t limited to, medication side effects, dementia, stiff muscles and joints, hearing issues, vision issues, and slower reaction times.
  • Offer transportation alternatives. Talk about ways that your loved one can stay independent and maintain as much freedom as possible. This could include, for example, taking public transportation, senior-specific transportation within your loved one’s community, or learning how to use Uber or another rideshare app.
  • Know when it’s time to get help. You may need to bring others, such as your siblings, cousins, or your loved one’s doctor, into the conversation.

You know your loved one best and should make every attempt to allow your loved one to retain as much dignity and independence as possible while staying safe.

What If Your Loved One Refuses to Stop Driving?

If you believe that your loved one must stop driving and your loved one refuses to do so, then you have three options in Iowa. You can:

  • Submit a Request for Re-Examination to the Department of Transportation. You must provide your loved one’s name and address, indicate if an accident has occurred, and the reason you are asking for a re-examination. Age alone is not a reason for re-examination. You must have specific safety concerns.
  • Request that a Health Care Professional Submit a Request to the Department of Transportation. A health care worker who knows a physical or mental condition that prevents someone from driving safely may provide that information to the Department of Transportation.
  • Have a Law Enforcement Officer Submit a Request for Re-Examination. Law enforcement officers may request a re-examination by submitting Form 431030 or through an accident report form.

The Department of Transportation will then decide whether your loved one should maintain a driver’s license or have driving privileges revoked.

What Happens If Your Loved One Is Hurt in a Car Crash

Every car crash involving an older driver must be thoroughly investigated to determine the cause. Even if you are worried about your loved one’s ability to drive safely, it is possible that your loved one did not cause this crash. If your loved one claims that someone else caused the crash, then please encourage your loved one to call our experienced Iowa car accident lawyers for a free and confidential consultation.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham